The Supreme Court has
rejected a challenge against immigration rules
requiring people to speak English before joining
spouses in the UK.
The case was brought by two female British citizens
whose husbands, from Yemen and Pakistan, want to
come to the UK to be with their families.
Currently, the men
must learn English and pass a test at an approved
Their wives argued
this was not feasible and breached their right to a
family life. The judges did not agree.
The London court heard
that Saiqa Bibi and Saffana Ali both claimed their
husbands would not be able to pass a test before
coming to the UK.
They argued the men
would have to learn computer skills and travel long
distances to take their English tests.
As such, their right
to a private and family life under article 8 of the
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was being
breached, the court heard.
Since late 2010, the
spouse or civil partner of a British citizen or
person settled in Britain must pass an English
language test before coming to the country.
Before the amendment
to the immigration rules, they were only required to
demonstrate such knowledge two years after entering
The panel of five
judges were asked to rule that the pre-entry measure
was "unreasonable, disproportionate and
They unanimously dismissed the appeal and
decided it did not infringe article 8.
However, the judges
indicated that the way the scheme operated might be
unlawful and asked the women's lawyers to present
further arguments about it.
They also suggested
that exemptions should be made in cases where it was
The Supreme Court
judgment follows earlier rulings in the High Court
and Court of Appeal that there was no
disproportionate interference with family life.
Rosie Brighouse, of
the human rights campaign group Liberty, said there
was disappointment the court did not agree on the
rule's "discriminatory effect".
However, she welcomed
its recognition that the Home Secretary's "harsh and
unreasonable guidance" put many couples in "an
impossible situation, and may well be unlawful".
*The above article was